The Difference Between Roadside and Evidentiary Breath Tests and What They Mean for Your DUI Case

DUI cases arise when an individual is accused of operating a vehicle under the influence or with an unlawful blood alcohol concentration. These charges are serious and can have significant legal consequences, making it imperative for individuals to understand the intricacies of the legal process.

In DUI cases, the distinction between roadside and evidentiary breath tests is paramount. While both estimate the amount of alcohol in a person's system, they serve distinct legal purposes. Roadside breath tests establish probable cause for an arrest, indicating the need for further testing. On the other hand, evidentiary breath tests are conducted to prove the guilt of a DUI violation in court. Recognizing this difference is crucial, as the outcomes of these tests can impact the course of a DUI case.

For individuals facing DUI charges, seeking legal counsel is instrumental. A defense lawyer can thoroughly evaluate the case, including roadside and evidentiary breath test results. This assessment allows them to chart a practical path to fight the charges, considering the nuances of the situation. Given the legal complexities involved, consulting with an attorney is pivotal in building a robust defense strategy.

At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP in Los Angeles, we fight aggressively for our clients. Contact us at (800) 462-7160.

What Are Roadside Breath Tests?

Roadside breath tests, or preliminary alcohol screenings (PAS), are administered at the scene of a DUI stop, providing law enforcement with an initial assessment of an individual's blood alcohol concentration. These tests, conducted on the side of the road, help establish probable cause for further investigation during a DUI incident.

Devices Used for Roadside Breath Tests

The primary tool for roadside breath tests is a handheld device that features a tube into which the individual blows, immediately estimating their alcohol concentration. These devices' portability and quick results make them essential for on-the-spot assessments during traffic stops.

Limitations and Potential Inaccuracies

Despite their convenience, roadside breath tests have limitations. These tests are not considered reliable enough for standalone evidence in a DUI case. Environmental conditions, individual physiology, or device calibration can contribute to potential inaccuracies, underscoring the need for additional, more precise testing methods.

Legal Implications of Preliminary Alcohol Screenings

While officers may request a driver to undergo a roadside breath test, most individuals are not legally obligated to comply. Drivers can decline to participate in the roadside test without facing immediate consequences. Officers may rely on other evidence to justify an arrest if an individual refuses the roadside breath test.

What Are Evidentiary Breath Tests?

Evidentiary breath tests are a crucial component of DUI investigations involving a chemical test administered at a police station after an individual has been arrested. This test serves to estimate the alcohol concentration in the individual's system. It plays a pivotal role in establishing evidence for DUI violations.

Devices Used for Evidentiary Testing

Unlike the handheld devices used in roadside tests, evidentiary breath tests involve larger, more sophisticated machines designed for testing breath samples with greater precision.

These machines adhere to more stringent criteria regarding calibration and administering procedures, increasing the accuracy in measuring blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Reliability and Accuracy Considerations

Evidentiary breath tests are generally more reliable than the preliminary ones conducted at the roadside. However, they are not as precise as blood tests, which directly measure alcohol concentration. Various factors, including individual physiology and proper calibration of the testing equipment, contribute to the overall reliability of the results.

Legal Consequences Associated with Evidentiary Breath Test Results

The results of an evidentiary breath test can be used as compelling evidence in court to demonstrate that the individual had a BAC of 0.08 or higher, meeting the legal threshold for a DUI violation.

Additionally, refusing to undergo an evidentiary breath test can have serious consequences, potentially leading to a driver's license suspension.

The Role of Legal Representation in DUI Cases

Legal representation is crucial in DUI cases, often making the difference between severe consequences and a more favorable outcome. Attorneys interpret the law and meticulously review the evidence law enforcement officials gather. It is common for them to scrutinize the evidence for violations of a person's rights during the arrest. A sound legal defense may uncover procedural errors or abuse of power that could significantly influence the case outcome.

Moreover, legal representation is vital in challenging breath test results in court. Attorneys are adept at questioning the calibration methods and procedures for administering these tests. They understand the scientific principles behind breath tests and can identify any instances of faulty administration or inaccurate results.

Additionally, they can gather evidence, such as medical records or other pertinent information, that might justify irregular readings, potentially casting doubt on the test results and impacting the case's trajectory.

Being informed and seeking legal advice is crucial for individuals in Los Angeles embroiled in DUI cases. Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP stands ready to provide the support and advocacy needed during this challenging time. Contact us at (800) 462-7160 today.